The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles lends genetic resources (tissues, DNA extracts, and microbiome samples) from its research collections for scientific and educational purposes that are consistent with the curatorial policies of the Division and with the goals and objectives of the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution. the tissue collection is strongest for the New World; however, we also have important collections from Madagascar, Central Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
Loans are made only to institutions and in care of a permanent staff member who assumes full responsibility for the use (including adhering to benefit sharing agreements and MOUs), storage, and if applicable, the timely return of unused material. Loans of all genetic resources require a formal request (cover letter on institutional letterhead and a completed Tissue & Sampling Loan Request Form). Researchers may send informal inquiries to curatorial or collection management staff to determine whether genetic samples of particular taxa are available before submitting a formal request. The request should include sufficient information about the research project and the intended use of the samples so that an evaluation of the request can be made by the curatorial staff in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles. Loan requests from students must be co-signed by their major professor or other professional staff member, who thereby assumes full responsibility for the loan. Graphic files (jpg, pdf) of the signed letterhead request and Specimen Loan Request form may be sent as an e-mail attachment. Requests are reviewed by the curators (Rayna C. Bell, Kevin de Queiroz) or the collection managers (Addison Wynn, Steve Gotte).
Requests should include the following:
- A brief description of the research that includes purpose, techniques (e.g., sanger versus next-generation sequencing), investigators involved and their experience, and expected significance of the study.
- A list of the material requested including specific taxa, number of individuals, catalog numbers and/or localities (if relevant), tissue types, and the preferred form of preservation (e.g., frozen, 95% ETOH) for shipping.
- A statement regarding the researcher’s efforts to contribute to the availability and supply of genetic resources for study by collecting, properly documenting, and depositing samples and voucher specimens in collections where they are available to others.
- Shipping instructions that include an appropriate address (a street address is necessary for shipping through private carrier) and contact phone number.
- Recipients must acknowledge in their request that they agree to the conditions listed under Terms below.
Note that we consider sampling tissue from morphological specimens (e.g., ethanol preserved or formalin-fixed specimens, dry skin samples, dry tissue off bones) for genetic resources a destructive sampling request, which requires approval of all curators. Requests for these types of genetic resource loans should include the following in addition to the items above:
- Additional explanation of why the destructive sampling is necessary to meet the objectives of the research.
- Description of methods for DNA extraction from formalin-fixed materials and sequencing.
- Experience of the researchers with the proposed techniques.
Criteria for Approval
Each request will be evaluated and approval will be based on the following criteria:
The scientific value and feasibility of the project
The qualifications of the investigator(s)
Rarity of tissue samples and opportunity for replacement
Amount of tissue needed from each sample
Evidence that the applicants are contributing to the availability and supply of genetic resources for study by collecting, properly documenting, and depositing samples and voucher specimens in collections where they are available to others
Amount of tissue needed from each sample
Evidence that the applicants are contributing to the base of genetic resources available for study by collecting, properly documenting, and depositing samples and voucher specimens in collections where they are available to others, or by otherwise supporting such collections.
Previous loan history.
All requests for tissues will be reviewed by Division of Amphibians and Reptiles staff, who have final discretion regarding approval or denial of all or part of the request. Due to shipping, customs, and CITES regulations, we may not be able to approve some international loan requests even when they meet the above criteria.
Tissue transfers are made under the following conditions:
Samples will be used only for the purposes stated in the description of research. The description of research may not be amended nor may the material be used for other purposes without written permission from the person authorizing the loan/transfer.
Neither the samples nor any part, extract, or product thereof may be given or loaned to another laboratory or investigator without written consent from the person authorizing the loan/transfer.
The recipient will return any portion of the tissue sample not consumed by analysis to the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles.
No commercial use will be made of the tissue samples, nor license or patent applied for based on the samples or any information derived from them without written consent from the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles. In many cases, commercial or restrictive use of the samples would violate terms of the permits under which they were collected.
Recipients will report the USNM (the approved abbreviation for referencing specimens at the National Museum of Natural History) catalog number for samples associated with USNM cataloged vouchers in every publication and data archive (e.g., GenBank record) that results from use of the sample. For tissues linked to photo vouchers, recipients should report the USNM Herp Image number; for voucher-less tissues, recipients should report the USNM Herp Tissue number. The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, National Museum of Natural History, will be explicitly acknowledged in each publication that is based in part or entirely on data derived from our tissue samples.
When feasible, we request reprints (or digital copies) of each paper, or one copy of any book, that results from research on USNM specimens.
Protein or nucleotide sequences derived from USNM specimens will be deposited in GenBank or another public genetic data archive, and the researcher will provide the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles with a spreadsheet linking GenBank numbers to USNM specimens. Genbank voucher numbers should be formatted USNM:Herp:[catalog number], USNM:Herp Image:[catalog number], and USNM:Herp Tissue:[catalog number].
Agreement to any other stipulations made as a condition of a particular loan or exchange.
All borrowers must agree to abide by this loan policy.
Initial questions and inquiries about tissue sample holdings should be addressed to:
Division of Amphibians and Reptiles
P.O. Box 37012
NHB MRC 162
Washington, DC 20013-7012
Return of all loans approved by Bell, de Queiroz, and Wynn are to be sent to Robert Wilson. Return of all loans approved by Gotte are to be sent to James Poindexter II. Packages to either Wilson or Poindexter should be returned via courier service such as FedEx or UPS (not the government postal system) to the following address:
(Name of either Robert Wilson or James Poindexter II)
Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746